What are the Most Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?

May 15, 2023 | Ed Bernstein
What are the Most Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?

When you think about car accidents, you often think about collisions between vehicles, but what about when a vehicle hits a pedestrian traveling on or near a roadway?

Pedestrian accidents happen all too often, and the aftermath can cause devastation and traumatic injuries to a victim. Sadly, nearly all pedestrian accidents are avoidable, and, in most cases, the negligence of a driver or other party leads to a pedestrian sustaining injuries in a crash.

If you are the victim of a pedestrian accident, how the accident happened and the actions of a driver in the moments before hitting you can play an important role in determining the liability for the crash and who may be responsible for paying your damages.

pedestrian accident attorney can help you following a pedestrian accident to evaluate your case, file a claim, and hold the parties at fault responsible for your losses.

The Risk of a Pedestrian Accident in the U.S.

What Are the Common Causes of Pedestrian Accidents?

Pedestrian injuries and accidents happen far too frequently. The risk of catastrophic injuries and deaths when a pedestrian accident occurs is significant. Recent statistics and reports evaluating trends of accidents involving pedestrians revealed that these accidents are on the rise and have reached a 40-year peak. The dangers of pedestrian accidents and the increase in frequency are widespread across the U.S.

In one year, nearly 7,500 people lost their lives in a pedestrian accident with a motor vehicle. Unfortunately, many of these accidents involved negligent drivers, and in far too many cases, the drivers flee the scene following a crash with a pedestrian.

A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reveals the staggering number of pedestrian hit and run accidents. The IIHS estimated that nearly 25 percent of pedestrian accidents involve a driver that hits and runs.

How Do Most Pedestrian Accidents Happen?

Pedestrian accidents are dangerous due to the high risk of fatality and injury likely to occur when a motor vehicle collides with a person. Determining how and why a pedestrian crash happens is crucial to the insurance claims process as the insurer allocates fault and calculates the compensation they can make available to a victim.

In many pedestrian accidents, the collision happens because of the reckless and negligent actions of a motor vehicle driver that endangers the life of a pedestrian. If you suffer injuries as a pedestrian by a passing motor vehicle, you may be eligible for compensation by proving the driver acted negligently, leading to the accident.


Speeding is often to blame when a motor vehicle driver strikes a pedestrian traveling near the roadway or crossing the street. The faster a driver operates their vehicle, the harder it becomes to abruptly stop if needed and identify what is ahead in the road. When someone travels at an excessive speed, they are also more likely to lose control of their vehicle, which can endanger pedestrians traveling on sidewalks and paths away from the road.


Drivers that do not pay attention to the road and operate a vehicle increase the risk to everyone around them, including other vehicle occupants and pedestrians. It takes just an instant for a driver to look away from the roadway and miss a flashing pedestrian signal, stop sign, or red light ahead. Distracted driving causes approximately 3,100 deaths each year across the U.S. Of those 3,100 deaths, nearly 20 percent involved the death of a pedestrian, bicycle rider, or bystander near a roadway.


Stop signs, red lights, pedestrian crossings, and yield signs are all examples of tools pedestrians use to navigate the roads safely to reach their destination. A pedestrian relies on these traffic signs and signals to cross roads safely and avoid injury. A driver failing to follow these traffic signals can cause devastating injuries to a pedestrian in their path.

In most instances, vehicles must yield to pedestrians when approaching areas designated for pedestrians to travel through or across. Sadly, many drivers may act contrary to the laws and posted traffic signs which can, in turn, cause death or injury to pedestrians on the road.


Drunk drivers and drivers under the influence of drugs are a huge risk to pedestrians on the roads. A driver under the influence loses coordination, cannot react normally, and may fall asleep at the wheel, causing them to lose control of the car and careen into pedestrians crossing the street or traveling on a sidewalk. Alcohol is a factor in almost half of all pedestrian deaths due to motor vehicle accidents.


The weather has a significant effect on road travel. When weather unexpectedly deteriorates, such as thunderstorms, rain, wind, or snow, the risk of a car accident increases. Pedestrians are especially vulnerable in deteriorating weather conditions as they may be unable to find shelter quickly enough and get caught in the elements.

Drivers must adapt to changes in weather. However, when they do not and travel at high rates of speed or drive recklessly, pedestrians are at risk of injury or death. Poor visibility combines with slick road conditions to create a potentially catastrophic situation if a negligent driver fails to see a pedestrian in or near the roadway.


A crosswalk is not just a matter of convenience but a safe space where pedestrians can cross the street with as many precautions as possible. Crosswalks sometimes provide signals for cars and pedestrians and flashing lights to call attention to the individual traveling by foot. Unfortunately, crosswalks are not always available. In some communities, there may be a lack of crosswalks forcing pedestrians to cross the road in high-risk situations. Additionally, sometimes crosswalks may be out of order, or poor maintenance and upkeep make it difficult for drivers to see the markings on the road, which can increase the risk of a pedestrian accident.


Dark roads and paths spell disaster for pedestrians when traveling at night or in the early morning hours. It can be hard enough for drivers to see pedestrians during broad daylight. In the darkness, the dangers escalate considerably. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s review of pedestrian accidents across the U.S. found that 76 percent of pedestrian accident deaths occurred during nighttime hours.

While in some cases, darkness on the road is unavoidable, such as in rural areas. Pedestrian accidents in urban or suburban areas may be due to poor lighting on roads due to faulty maintenance or poor safety planning of the roadways and pedestrian paths.


Trees, hedges, vehicles, and structures near roadways or intersections can create problems for drivers and pedestrians traveling on a roadway. A pedestrian may assume that a driver can see them and not realize that there is an obstruction in their line of sight that creates an unknown hazard.

When an object obstructs a driver’s vision, they may strike a pedestrian because they do not realize they are crossing a driveway or intersection. If you suffer an injury due to a driver claiming an obstruction, not allowing them to see you in or near the road, the driver and other parties may be liable to you.

Can You File a Claim for Damages as a Pedestrian Injured by a Vehicle?

As a pedestrian, you have rights just as if a driver caused injuries to the driver or passenger of another vehicle. Even if you are not in a vehicle during a crash, you can pursue compensation through a driver’s vehicle insurance for your damages when a driver causes the crash.

Filing a claim as a pedestrian after severe injuries and high medical bills and damages are. Pedestrian accident cases can become contentious if an insurer refuses to accept liability or devalues the losses a pedestrian incurs when offering a settlement. A pedestrian accident attorney can represent a pedestrian crash victim to fight for the maximum compensation available under the law and attempt to negotiate the best possible settlement through an insurance claim.

How Much Compensation May You Qualify for as a Pedestrian Victim?

Damages to pedestrian accident victims can vary. Pedestrians can suffer severe injuries and, in some cases, may face permanent disability and chronic pain due to the injuries they sustain when hit by a vehicle on the road.

To calculate your pedestrian accident damages, you will need to consider your current injuries and situation, but you must also think about how your injuries might affect your future.

A pedestrian accident attorney understands the ins and out of the compensation available in an insurance claim or lawsuit. They can work with you and use resources, including experts, and retrieve personal records to account for the impacts you have sustained and the impacts you may continue to accumulate as you move forward after the crash.

Damages in a pedestrian accident may include:

  • Medical expenses. The injuries you may suffer as a pedestrian in a traffic accident can be severe and life-threatening. Aside from the possible broken bones, lacerations, and crush injuries, a pedestrian can also suffer traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other life-changing harm to their health, which affects how they live and if they can work in the future. Some victims may require ongoing medical support, treatment, and help to live and fulfill day-to-day responsibilities. As part of a pedestrian accident claim for damages, you can include all of your medical costs, including future medical treatment and supportive care you may need.
  • Income losses. A pedestrian accident can impact your income and ability to earn a living. The income losses can depend on various factors, including your employment status and earnings at the time of the accident and your earning potential in the future. Additionally, income loss damages can be significant when a victim suffers permanent damage, such as a child left with a disabling injury that limits their ability to live a normal life, including a career. As part of an insurance claim, a victim of a pedestrian injury can claim damages for all income losses, including future income and the potential for the growth of your income.
  • Pain and suffering. The pain a victim can experience from a pedestrian accident is unimaginable. Injuries of survivors of a vehicle colliding with a pedestrian are often horrific. While nothing can make up for the pain and suffering you endure physically, emotionally, or mentally following a traumatic pedestrian crash, the law allows victims to seek compensation for this harm to them in the form of money. Valuing pain and suffering is complex, and a pedestrian accident attorney can explain the process of determining this compensation and what you may be able to expect in your case.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Pedestrian Accidents?

Pedestrian accidents involving injuries to a victim are personal injury cases. Each state has set laws that guide how long a victim has to take legal action should it become necessary.

The length of a statute of limitations differs from one state to another. Consult with your lawyer to review the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in your state to ensure you protect your right to a lawsuit if you should need one.

Will You Need an Attorney to Handle Your Pedestrian Accident Case?

Ed Bernstein, Personal Injury Lawyer 

You should absolutely seek a pedestrian accident lawyer if you are a victim of a pedestrian crash. Pedestrian accidents can cause extensive damage and financial losses to a victim due to your injuries and the consequences of those injuries on your life. Reach out to a personal injury lawyer.

Contact a pedestrian accident lawyer in your area to discuss your case and for guidance to protect your rights to compensation against the insurance company or parties responsible for the accident and your injuries.


Ed Bernstein

Edward M. Bernstein, Esq. is the owner and founding partner of Edward M. Bernstein & Associates, and one of the most recognizable figures in Nevada. Ed is one of state’s premier personal injury attorneys and has hosted The Ed Bernstein Show for over 31 years. He has served the Las Vegas community for decades with dozens of community appointments and terms of service. In the year 2000, he was Nevada’s Democratic nominee for the United States Senate.

Ed received his B.A. from Long Island University in 1971 and his J.D. from Widener University in 1975. Since then, Ed’s professional accolades include numerous publications, honors and awards, court appointments, and has been named one of America’s Top 100 High Stakes Litigators.